Gevorg Mirzayan: "Unlike Armenia, Russia able to live with poor Russian-Armenian relations"

By Vestnik Kavkaza
Gevorg Mirzayan: "Unlike Armenia, Russia able to live with poor Russian-Armenian relations"

The signing of the agreement between Armenia and the European Union has given rise to many conflicting assessments of this event for Russian-Armenian relations, including a new wave of anti-Russian sentiment among Armenian radicals, which hit the Russian TV channels and Russian experts giving a balanced analysis of the consequences of the new stage of Yerevan's rapprochement with the West (Armenian nationalists vs. Russian TV channels and experts). One of the radical political scientists who had been criticized by the radical political scientists, the head of the Department of Political Science of the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation, Gevorg Mirzayan, told Vestnik Kavkaza about "virtual diversification" of Armenia's foreign policy and threats to Russian-Armenian relations from nationalists.

- What is the essence of the "virtual diversification" of Armenia's foreign policy, manifested in the conclusion of a new agreement with the European Union?

- The agreement between Armenia and the EU is not an association agreement. This agreement only implies Armenia's rapprochement with the European Union on a number of parameters, primarily economic ones, as well as a number of benefits. While the EU undertakes to support Armenia in carrying out a number of reforms.

There are two negative aspects. First, the Eastern Partnership is a clearly anti-Russian as a structure. Armenia's participation in this organization raises a number of questions regarding the republic's obligations on Eurasian organizations and the CSTO. Second, the European Union for a long time refused to work with Armenia on the eat cake and have it approach (when Yerevan cooperates with both sides). Eventually, both issues were resolved, the EU agreed with the Armenian approach, and Russia agreed that the agreement signed will not infringe Armenia's obligations under both the CSTO and the Eurasian direction.

'Virtual diversification' here is that Armenia will continue to depend on Russia just like it used to. In theory, any agreements with different centers of power are concluded to diversify foreign policy and foreign economic relations, so that the country does not depend entirely on one or several key partners. In practice, the goal of all other countries that signed association agreements within the framework of the Eastern Partnership, was not to diversify ties, but a complete focus on the West. In the case of Armenia something different happened. It's not about complete focus on the West. Yes, a significant part of the Armenian foreign trade turnover accounts for Europe, but Armenia depends entirely on Moscow in the political, defense and investment spheres.

But a real diversification is not possible either: an agreement with the EU does not "dilute" Armenia's political-defense dependence on Russia. The meaning and importance of the agreement is that it will soften the Armenian discontent with the country's excessive dependence on the Russian Federation.

Psychologically, this discontent is understandable: a society that depends on another state, whose interests do not always coincide with the Armenian, is burdened by this dependence and requires the authorities to change the situation. The problem is that this situation cannot be changed. There are no other countries capable of guaranteeing Armenia's security, and the authorities understand that it is impossible to implement this request. However, it is possible to show that Yerevan signed an agreement with Europe and thus achieved diversification. That's what I call "virtual diversification": everyone believes that there is diversification, but in reality it does not and cannot exist.

- What are the threats from this "virtual diversification" for Russian-Armenian cooperation?  Is Armenia's greater focus on the West possible?

- A "virtual diversification" in itself poses no threat  - but threats are contained in the interpretations of this event by separate groups of Russian flag-wavers, as well as the radical part of the Armenian political-academic community and Internet activists. They refuse to accept that Russian-Armenian relations have equal rights, but not equivalent. It's them who pose threats, and if such people are not removed from the political field, threats will remain. Moscow is working in this direction, Zvezda TV channel apologized for its broadcast about signing the agreement. In Armenia, on the contrary, we do not see such actions.

As for a further focus, of course, the development of economic relations will probably bring any European investments to Armenia. But again, neither Europe, nor the US, nor any other state is able to replace Moscow. They can be neither a formal guarantor of Armenia's security nor an informal guarantor of the status quo in Karabakh. Therefore, Russia will remain the main player. Of course, no one prevents Yerevan from giving up contacts with Moscow, but only if it wants to commit suicide. The change of foreign policy will be Armenia's last serious foreign policy act. If today it renounces allied relations with Russia, it will be simply eaten by Turkey and Azerbaijan tomorrow.

- How do you assess the metaphor of "a marriage does not work any more", which is popular now in describing the current Russian-Armenian relations? Why was this metaphor  rejected so firmly by of a part of Armenian society?

- They did not like that Armenia was compared to a wife. Apparently, a wife is a second-class creature in conservative societies. They also did not like that Armenia was compared to a cheating wife. Speaking with individual groups of people, it is very difficult to use any analogies, because they immediately begin to perceive everything literally. In no case it means a marriage that does not work any more, because the agreement does not undermine Yerevan's contacts with Moscow and Armenian obligations towards Russia. If one uses analogies, it's more like if a wife or husband who went with friends in a bar.

- How should one perceive negative assessments of an objective analysis of the Armenian-Russian relations, including yours?

- People who do not make decisions can just laugh about it. But people who make decisions should shudder at the harm to public diplomacy and the relationship between the two states caused by these radical critics. And put a muzzle on them.

What is interesting here is that Russia's actions towards such critics were rather pragmatic, a simple apology - despite the fact that although Russia needs this, but it is not vital for it. Moscow is able to live with poor Armenian-Russian relations, while Yerevan, whose security depends on good and constructive relations with Moscow, took a passive position, fearing the reaction of a local group of flag-wavers.

- Why are well-known Russian Armenians regularly subjected to severe criticism and even ostracism from Armenia, despite the fact that they do a lot to promote Armenian points of view in Russia?

- Famous Armenians living in Russia are accustomed to live in a free society with a right to freedom of opinion. In Armenia, the passionate part of society requires a single point of view on any issue, and moving away from this viewpoint is treated as a national betrayal. Such ideological totalitarianism greatly hinders the development of the state, because it does not give an alternative point of view and the opportunity for a realistic examination of the situation.

In addition, there is an ethnic moment. For some reason, some Armenians believe that if a person has an Armenian surname, then he is obliged to protect the interests of Armenia, and not the interests of the state where he lives. The USSR was a great country, also because people there tried to feel themselves as a civil nation. Russia is trying to restore this. But some people just do not understand it, they are not mature enough mentally. Or, conversely, maybe they mentally degraded.